Cerebral palsy is a motor disability, meaning that it affects your baby’s ability to move normally. The cause of cerebral palsy is damage that occurs to a child’s brain in early infancy, sometimes even during birth.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if your child has cerebral palsy, it is important to his or her well-being to diagnose it as soon as possible. However, the signs of cerebral palsy may be different depending on your child’s age.
Over six months
Children with cerebral palsy who are at least six months old may have difficulty bringing their hands to their mouths and be completely unable to bring their hands together. You may notice that your baby always keeps one hand fisted when reaching out with the other one. At this age, babies should be able to roll over in at least one direction, but if your child has cerebral palsy, he or she may not be able to roll over in either direction.
Under six months
Cerebral palsy affects muscle tone, increasing it in some people and decreasing it in others. Therefore, if your baby has cerebral palsy, he or she may feel either floppy or stiff when you pick him or her up. Pay particular attention to the legs because, in addition to getting stiff, they may scissor or cross. Your baby may act as though he or she is pushing away from you when you try to cradle him or her in your arms, overextending the neck and back.
When your baby is young, your doctor will perform frequent checks to see if he or she is meeting expected developmental milestones. If not, your doctor may suspect cerebral palsy. However, if you notice any symptoms such as these, discuss them with your doctor as soon as possible.